Philosophy

Staff Profile

Dr Michael Lewis

Head of Philosophy (until December 2021) & Senior Tutor

Background

Biography

I have taught philosophy at the University of Sussex (2007–9, 2011), the University of Warwick (2010), the University of the West of England (2011–2015), and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (2016–), where I am a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy.


I am Senior Tutor in Philosophy, and for the last three years have been Head of Philosophy, a role I'm handing on to Stephen Overy in January 2022.

I am general editor of the Journal of Italian Philosophy.

At Newcastle, I co-founded the Faculty Research Group in Critical Theory and Practice.

 


I am happy to consider supervising exceptionally appropriate doctoral projects on any topic in 19th, 20th, and 21st Century European Philosophy, although I am trying to limit the number of PhDs I begin to supervise in any one year, so I encourage you to look around the department to see if anyone else might be capable of supervising your project.

 

Current Doctoral Students

Ben Havercroft, Thesis Topic: Heidegger and Dignity. University of Staffordshire, 2021– (co-supervised with Staffordshire Philosophy).

Naomi Harland-Smith, Thesis Topic: Animals in Philosophy and Law. University of Durham, 2021– (co-supervised with Durham Modern Languages & Durham Law).

Samuel Briault, Thesis Topic: Vision and Blindness: A Dialectical Materialist Approach. University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2021–.

Robert Atkinson, Thesis Topic: Psychoanalysis and Addiction, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2020– (co-supervised with Durham Modern Languages).

Gioele Cima, Thesis Topic: The Thought of Elvio Fachinelli, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2020– (funded by the Newcastle University Iland Scholarship).

Matthew Collins, Thesis Topic: Defining Lacan’s Contribution to Agamben’s Theory of Sovereign Power, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2020– (funded by AHRC).

Glen Melville, Thesis Topic: Stiegler, Deleuze, and the Imagination, University of Durham, 2020– (funded by AHRC, co-supervised with Durham Modern Languages).

Justina Mitkute, Thesis Topic: How does the Human-Animal Connection Shape Human Identity? University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2020– (Creative Practice PhD in Documentary Film, Co-supervised with Newcastle Film, Culture Lab).

Marco Pavanini, Thesis Topic: The Political Stakes of Anthropo-Technology: Sloterdijk and Stiegler, University of Durham, 2019– (funded by AHRC, co-supervised with Durham Modern Languages).

Elliot Sturdy, Thesis Topic: Contemporary German Literature and Giorgio Agamben’s Philosophy of Language, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2019– (Co-supervised with Newcastle Modern Languages and Durham Modern Languages).

Tuba Ilan, Thesis Topic: Kant, Hegel, Rawls, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2018– (funded by the Government of Turkey).

Jim Lloyd, Thesis Topic: Animal Perception, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2018– (funded by AHRC, co-supervised with Newcastle Fine Arts).

Nicholas Brignell, Thesis Topic: Adorno and Hegel, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2018– (funded by AHRC).

Lucy Carolan, Thesis Topic: Photography and Disorders of Memory, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2017– (funded by AHRC, co-supervised with Newcastle Fine Arts).



Research

My work at present considers the problem of the boundary between the human, understood by philosophy as a political, linguistic, and technical animal, and the non-human animal.

     The most substantial issue of this project will be a book entitled, The Reinvention of Man: Philosophy and Anthropology which investigates the motivations behind and the problems which haunt the project of a ‘philosophical anthropology’ (as developed by Gehlen, Plessner, and Scheler in the 1920’s and 30’s, but whose origins are much more ancient): in other words, it addresses the ontological or metaphysical questions of the essence of man, animal, and nature. I attempt to demonstrate how this project has been received and reinvented by various philosophers in the post-Kantian European tradition from Heidegger to Stiegler, from Derrida to Lacan, from Agamben and Esposito to Virno, by way of a number of other figures, all of whom are addressing the vexed question of ‘human nature’ and the ‘human animal’.

     This work is the continuation of a trilogy of books, which took as their point of departure my doctoral work on Martin Heidegger and the relation between ethics and politics in his work (Heidegger and the Place of Ethics, 2005), which I developed in a later text (Heidegger Beyond Deconstruction: On Nature, 2007) in the direction of the question of nature (earth) and animality, including the animality of man, and thus in the direction of the ontological and ethico-political status of nature, and man’s ecological responsibilities, but perhaps more fundamentally this was to raise the most basic question of the anthropological project, which might be expressed in terms of the genesis of the transcendental, the natural preconditions for the emergence of transcendental structures and the transcendental subject.

     This work on the animality of man also concerned the question of the relation between transcendental philosophy and empirical science — the question of the place of empirical data, and in particular the results arrived at by anthropology, zoology and psychology, in a philosophical determination of the essence of man and the animal. This led to a comparative study of two ways of collapsing the transcendental-empirical (philosophical-scientific) divide, in Derridean deconstruction and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory (Derrida and Lacan: Another Writing, 2008). The question of ‘structure and genesis’ was thereby raised in a new way.

     This project of rethinking the human, its language, politics, and technics, in their animal genesis, has more recently issued in two shorter books:

First, a small book on the notion of the domestic animal (a wild animal inducted into the human home or oikos), which attempts to demonstrate the significance of the conjunction of the notions of beauty and animality for Post-Kantian Philosophy in particular. Thus it begins from a consideration of Kant’s third critique, and the relation between its two halves, which deal precisely with beauty on the one hand, and the organism, on the other. This then leads us on to a consideration of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature and a number of recent and contemporary continental thinkers of the animal, and more precisely of the relation between nature and culture, animal and human, with Derrida perhaps foremost amongst them (but also others, including Wittgenstein, Levinas, Lacan, Heidegger, and Meillassoux) (The Beautiful Animal: Sincerity, Charm, and the Fossilised Dialectic, 2018).

Secondly, what may be considered a companion piece to the book on animals, a book on humans, as addressed by the work of Giorgio Agamben. Here we attempt to isolate the philosophical core of his work, and in particular the precise nature of the relation and order of foundation that exists between language, being, and the political (the book is provisionally entitled, Logic, Ontology, Politics: A Philosophical Interpretation of Agamben, and projected for completion in 2022).

            Both of these texts, along with the trilogy that preceded them, may be conceived as prolegomena to the work described above under the heading of philosophical anthropology.

 

The published outcomes of this research in the recent past include the following: ‘On Thinking at the End of the World: Derrida, Lyotard, Bataille’ (in Georges Bataille and Contemporary Thought, Bloomsbury, 2017), ‘Heidegger and Žižek: On Political and Non-Political Action at the End of History’ (in Heidegger and the Global Age, Rowman and Littlefield, 2017), ‘The Relation between Transcendental Philosophy and Empirical Science in Heidegger’s Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics’ (in Cosmos & History, 2017), ‘A Voice that is Merely Breath’ (in The Philosopher, 2018), ‘Virno’s Philosophical Anthropology’ (in the Journal of Italian Philosophy, 2018), 'Beyond the Death of Man: Foucault, Derrida, and Philosophical Anthropology' (Kritikos, 2019), ‘Plessner’s Philosophical Anthropology: From the Philosophy of Nature to Politics’ (Stasis, 2020), and ‘Escaping the Anthropological Circle: Kant and Hegel on Madness and Habit’ (Lo Sguardo: Rivista di filosofia 2021).

 

In addition to this, I have an abiding interest in the critique of Ideology and in Italian Theory (The Bloomsbury Italian Philosophy Reader will appear in 2022).

Some examples of my writing may be found on my Academia.edu website.

I am happy to consider supervising exceptionally appropriate doctoral projects on any topic in 19th, 20th, and 21st Century European Philosophy, although I am trying to limit the number of PhDs I begin to supervise in any one year, so I encourage you to look around the department to see if anyone else might be capable of supervising your project.


Current Doctoral Students

Ben Havercroft, Thesis Topic: Heidegger and Dignity. University of Staffordshire, 2021– (co-supervised with Staffordshire Philosophy).

Naomi Harland-Smith, Thesis Topic: Animals in Philosophy and Law. University of Durham, 2021– (co-supervised with Durham Modern Languages & Durham Law).

Samuel Briault, Thesis Topic: Vision and Blindness: A Dialectical Materialist Approach. University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2021–.

Robert Atkinson, Thesis Topic: Psychoanalysis and Addiction, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2020– (co-supervised with Durham Modern Languages).

Gioele Cima, Thesis Topic: The Thought of Elvio Fachinelli, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2020– (funded by the Newcastle University Iland Scholarship).

Matthew Collins, Thesis Topic: Defining Lacan’s Contribution to Agamben’s Theory of Sovereign Power, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2020– (funded by AHRC).

Glen Melville, Thesis Topic: Stiegler, Deleuze, and the Imagination, University of Durham, 2020– (funded by AHRC, co-supervised with Durham Modern Languages).

Justina Mitkute, Thesis Topic: How does the Human-Animal Connection Shape Human Identity? University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2020– (Creative Practice PhD in Documentary Film, Co-supervised with Newcastle Film, Culture Lab).

Marco Pavanini, Thesis Topic: The Political Stakes of Anthropo-Technology: Sloterdijk and Stiegler, University of Durham, 2019– (funded by AHRC, co-supervised with Durham Modern Languages).

Elliot Sturdy, Thesis Topic: Contemporary German Literature and Giorgio Agamben’s Philosophy of Language, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2019– (Co-supervised with Newcastle Modern Languages and Durham Modern Languages).

Tuba Ilan, Thesis Topic: Kant, Hegel, Rawls, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2018– (funded by the Government of Turkey).

Jim Lloyd, Thesis Topic: Animal Perception, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2018– (funded by AHRC, co-supervised with Newcastle Fine Arts).

Nicholas Brignell, Thesis Topic: Adorno and Hegel, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2018– (funded by AHRC).

Lucy Carolan, Thesis Topic: Photography and Disorders of Memory, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2017– (funded by AHRC, co-supervised with Newcastle Fine Arts).



Research Identifiers/Citation Indices

Google scholar: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=7-xqLdEAAAAJ&hl=en

Orcid id: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6373-9046

Scopus Author Id: 57193167301

Academia.edu: https://newcastle.academia.edu/MichaelLewis




 

Teaching

2021-22:

  • Rationalism and Empiricism
  • Ancient Philosophy I (The Pre-socratics)
  • Post-Kantian Philosophy: Idealism
  • Phenomenology (Semester II)
  • Introduction to Continental Philosophy (Two sessions on Claude Levi-Strauss, Wild Thought)
  • The session on Post-Structuralism for Thinking Theories and Methods (on Levi-Strauss)


2020-21:

  • Kantian and Post-Kantian Philosophy I: Idealism {this year, on the invention of anthropology in Kant, Herder, and Hegel}
  • Phenomenology {this year, on the myth of the given: Husserl, Marion, Heidegger, the Neo-Kantians, Wilfrid Sellars, Claude Romano}
  • Postmodern Political Thought (Jean-Luc Nancy and Community)
  • The Networked Society (on Marcuse, Horkheimer, Instrumental Reason and Formal Logic)
  • Projects (All years)
  • The session on Post-Structuralism for Thinking Theories and Methods, for postgraduates in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Three sessions of the Introduction to Continental Philosophy/Research Assignments module on the MLitt Philosophy {Georges Bataille, anthropogenesis and cave paintings}


2019-20:

  • Kantian and Post-Kantian Philosophy I: Idealism
  • Phenomenology
  • Projects (All years)
  • The session on Post-Structuralism for Thinking Theories and Methods, for postgraduates in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Two sessions of the Introduction to Continental Philosophy (two sessions on Agamben's Use of Bodies).

2018-19:

  • Kantian and Post-Kantian Philosophy I: Idealism
  • Phenomenology
  • Projects (1st and 2nd year)
  • Sessions on Phenomenology and Post-structuralism in Thinking Theories and Methods, for postgraduates in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; one session on Alain Badiou for the MLitt Philosophy.

2017-18:

  • Philosophy and Religion
  • Knowledge and Human Interests
  • Meaning, Truth, and Language
  • Projects
  • A session on Postmodernism and Poststructuralism on the Postgraduate Research Methods module, for all doctoral students in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Two sessions on the MLitt in Philosophy course, PHI9001 Research Assignments, concerning Agamben's What is Philosophy? and a research talk on Paolo Virno's Essay on Negation.

2016-17:

  • Philosophy and Religion, 2016–17.
  • European Philosophical Traditions II: Moral Philosophy and Human Nature, 2016–17.
  • Meaning, Truth, and Language, 2016–17. 
  • Cultural Contradictions of Scientific Rationality, 2016–17. 
  • Knowledge and Human Interests, 2016–17 (Seminars in Term 1).
  • Philosophy Project, 2016–17.

Publications